PAN­THERS, 27-23

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - LEADING OFF -

Con­sen­sus line: Pan­thers by 1 Pre­dic­tion: Both teams are com­ing off huge road wins, en­abling them to keep pace with the di­vi­sion­lead­ing New Or­leans Saints in the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive NFC South. Six of the Fal­cons’ re­main­ing nine games are against di­vi­sional foes, in­clud­ing their fi­nal four, two against the Saints. The Pan­thers play five of their fi­nal eight games at home af­ter post­ing a stel­lar 4-1 road record dur­ing the first eight weeks. The Fal­cons, ar­guably, have the Pan­thers right where they want them — at Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium, where Carolina is 1-2. With the Saints fa­vored to beat cel­lar-dwelling Tampa Bay at home, this game looms large for both teams.

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